It’s hard to believe about a year has passed since the Hawkeye series debuted. When it first started, I doubt anyone figured it would become one of the most fun and most popular books Marvel releases. Now, however, the series has a strong fan following, evidence not only by sales figures, but also by the palpable increase in Hawkeye merchandise and cosplayers. The series has taken numerous risks, such as placing Clint’s dog Lucky in the starring role of Issue #11, while Issue #12 focuses on Barney Barton, Hawkeye’s older brother. Could Fraction’s gambit in this issue pay off?
Barney Barton arrives in New York City, down on his luck, out of cash, and hoping to reconnect with his younger brother. It’s not long before Barney runs afoul of the tracksuit bros, while simultaneously reminiscing to his childhood alongside Clint. We learn about their difficult home life, and also see that Barney taught the future Hawkeye the basics of fist-fighting. The issue ends with a touching moment, which sets the stage for upcoming story arcs.
Matt Fraction takes a chance by centering a story on Barney, a character even hardcore Marvel fans have little familiarity or connection with. This risk definitely comes with reward, as the reader connects to Barney not long after he appears on panel. Though Clint is somewhat of a disheleved loser, his older brother suffers even moreso from life’s hard knocks. We learn quite a lot about Barney’s past and persona in only 20 pages, more than enough to endear us to his character. Meanwhile, the story is not merely a character piece, and further builds the central story of the series.
Francesco Francavilla is not a newcomer to Hawkeye, though we have not seen him on the book since he pencilled Issue #9. I’m not quite sure how I feel about Francavilla’s art. On the one hand, his shadowy, minimalistic style is a great fit for this title. On the other hand, his art here often feels cramped and appears too sketchy for my tastes. I will contend he’s a master of creative panel layouts. The art is certainly not bad by any means, but neither is it impressive. I vastly prefer David Aja for this book, though luckily he’ll return for future issues.
Hawkeye #12 is an enjoyable and moving issue. It helps move the story along and further explores the character of Barney, who promises to become a major player in the series. This comic is Marvel’s dark horse, continuing to impress with each installment. It may not be the best comic on the stands, but it definitely belongs in the top tier and on your pull list.
-excellent exploration of the character Barney Barton
-moves the story along in an intriguing manner with great story-telling techniques
-art style fits the series
-art is often cramped and sketchy
-we don’t see much of the main cast
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He’d like to dedicate this post to his older, more awesome brother Jeremy.
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